by Wilfred Okiche
With the end of another musical year comes the assessment of what worked and what did not. 2013 had it’s hits and misses but our list manages to represent the 10 best albums of the year. Criteria include the quality of the recording, commercial accessibility and pop culture impact.
Without much ado (and in ascending order) we give you the year’s top 10 discs
10) D’banj presents D’ kings men
D’banj’s first post-Mo-hits album enlisted Kay Switch, Olamide and newbie J Sol as henchmen to produce a serviceable but overlong collection of splashy, easily forgettable, over the top pop tunes.
9) Testimoney- Wizboyy
The songs on ‘Testimoney’, Wizboyy’s sophomore effort are mostly mildly pleasing fare with none showing any real signs of blowing up to monster single status. Radio and dance floor friendly, the disc is light listening fun that seems targeted at a ready audience already and isn’t positioned to grab him new fans. ‘Testimoney’ is Eastern roots pop, with the compulsory highlife twist and is as engaging as one would have any right to expect. It isn’t hard hitting and Flavour shouldn’t be looking over his shoulder yet but it does manage to get the job done nicely.
8) L.I.F.E- Burna Boy
The sound on ‘L.I.F.E’, Burna boy’s anticipated sizzling debut is mostly his. Drawing heavily from the music of earlier maestros like King Sunny Ade and Fela Anikulapo Kuti, he updates the mix to a contemporary sound that is instantly fresh, organic and nostalgic all at once. It is the afrobeat sound of the 70s, the hip hop sounds of the nineties and today’s trippy club music with every passing phase in between.
7) Fire of Zamani- Ice Prince
‘Fire of Zamani’ burns as bright as Ice Prince he wants it to, as he carefully douses the flames anytime they threaten to spread beyond his control zone. The songs glide by easily and go down smoothly. Easily accessible and ridiculously catchy, ‘FOZ’ has Ice Prince tuned to his audience as he glides between the good stuff and the bad, the songs of fire and those of ice.
6) Lasso of truth- Omawumi
‘Lasso of truth’ is a solid piece of work, better by far than most of the albums put out in the first half of the year. Packed with potential hits and arresting vocals and mirroring much of her debut album ‘Wonder woman’ in terms of sound, Ms Megbele finds herself speaking out for the sisters.
5) R&BW- Banky W
Everyone from Masterkraft to MI, Sarz to Spellz shares production credits on Mr W’s restrained effort but they succeed mostly in making a slick record that just manages to get by. However Banky W remains king of his specialty and manages to pull surprises out of ordinary fare.
4) WAJE- Waje
The lesson Waje may (or may not) have learnt from her predecessor Yinka Davies who put out a belated faultless double disc ‘Black chiffon’ in 2011 is that great music should not be rushed. And this is the same lesson ‘WAJE’- the self titled album perpetuates. Times have changed, stars can be made from hot singles but real artistes have to go the extra mile. With this rich effort, Waje leaves her competition in the dust and inches steps closer. She is the real deal.
3) Merchants, dealers and slaves- Brymo
Brymo’s sophomore disc may not have gotten the commercial attention it deserved, thanks to his public spat/breach of contract suit with his former record label Chocolate City but it must be highlighted that ‘MDS’ is a record spilling with ideas. Packing a wallop and hinting at brilliance, few discs this year rewarded listeners with such musical enrichment.
2) Jagz nation volume 1: Thy nation come- Jesse Jagz
Ingenious, exciting and thrilling, ‘Jagz nation’ is a tour de force that suffers occasionally from misbegotten ideas of over-reaching. Jesse Jagz is a brilliant performer- that is obvious from the start – but he tries too hard to display his talent, at times leaving the listeners out of the loop in the process. There is this feeling that he isn’t talking to you as an equal but considers himself superior. Sonically daring, the radio hits aren’t in their numbers and the suits at Choc city would never have allowed him put out this record. He isn’t quite God on the mic, but he makes a pretty good impression.
1) Firsteps- Ego
With ‘Firsteps’, Ego Ogbaro has put her best foot forward and presented one of the defining discs of 2013. The experience can be imagined as a short but entirely affirming soul session where she takes the stage of a darkly lit stage in a smoky café and pours out her heart and soul. Debut albums don’t get much better than this and with ‘Firsteps’, Ego proves herself an original; ignoring the beating drums of popular leanings and making exactly the album she always had in mind. She should be as proud of herself as we are of her.
The writer tweets from @drwill20